Entrepreneur

This Ax-Throwing Company Plans to Transform From Small Business to National Franchise

Stumpy's Hatchet House wants to go big-but the competition isn't far behind
Source: Brian Stauffer
Brian Stauffer

Jon Charlton might be a hatchet-throwing prodigy. On the helicopter pilot’s second-ever throw, the hatchet swings one perfect rotation, handle over blade and sinks into a target 12 feet away. On his third throw, he hits the bull’s-eye. Thunk! The sound is deeply satisfying.

His wife, JoyAnn Charlton, is a different story. Her hatchets bounce off the target at unpredictable angles and clatter to the concrete floor. She gives up quickly. No matter. She and Jon didn’t really come to Stumpy’s Hatchet House to throw hatchets. They came here, to this otherwise sleepy industrial part of Eatontown, N.J., because they’re in the market for a turnkey business that will make them money while allowing them the free time they need to raise two kids. And they believe a hatchet-throwing franchise may be just the thing.

Related: 5 Franchises You Can Buy for Less Than $18,000

“Jon and I have been exploring the franchise route,” says JoyAnn, who also happens to be a franchising attorney. “We live all the way out in Bucks County, Penn., and we had two friends on two separate occasions talk about getting a group together to make a trip here.” The buzz piqued their interest, so they came to meet the owners on a “discovery day.”

This is an unusual . But Stumpy’s is an unusual business, to say the least. Its customers show up in groups -- birthday and bachelor parties are most common, but the business hosts company retreats, baby showers and even divorce parties. Each group rents a stall lined with steel fencing, and everybody takes turns hurling hatchets at targets. It’s not unlike

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